The Business of Ball with Joseph James Francis

Why Toronto Should Never Host an Olympics

By: Joseph James Francis

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Every year it seems a new Olympic Bid occurs, and it always appears that Toronto is right in the thick of it. Many advocates for the city seem to think that supporting a Summer Olympics would be a great boost to the economy. Despite this, it has been proven time and time again that hosting the Olympic games is not good for an economy and can, in fact, hurt the host city. Let’s look at why we should not want an Olympics in Toronto.

1) The Cost

It is blatantly obvious that hosting an Olympics is tremendously expensive. Since their inception taxpayers have been on the hook for the operating costs of hosting the games. Canada is no different in this problem with the Montreal Games in 1976 costing 1.4 Billion and losing over 990 Million dollars. Vancouver in 2010 saw Taxpayers footing a bill of 2.3 Billion. In fact, the past 5 Summer Olympic Games have been disastrous in terms of cost.

Sydney 2000: 6.6 Billion AUS

Athens 2004: 15 Billion USD

Beijing 2008: 44 Billion USD

London 2012: 10.4 Billion USD

Rio 2016: 11.6 Billion USD

If the Olympics were so popular they wouldn’t run deficits and taxpayers wouldn’t have to contribute a dime. With the fragile state of our economy, it would only be for the benefit of the stakeholders and not the public if we held an Olympic Games.

2) The Environment

The Olympics are often a huge burden on the environment. Land often needs to be reclaimed to build new structures which can have a damaging effect on habitats. In the case of Toronto’s urban sprawl, there wouldn’t be much land in the city to do this, so builders would have to look elsewhere in the GTA. This could come in conflict with protected habitats and even Aboriginal lands. Given the bounty of fresh water we have in our province, I would not want that to be jeopardized by redevelopment.

3) Infrastructure

With the influx of people that an Olympics causes, infrastructure will be affected. For those who work in Toronto, traffic will be a nightmare in and around the events. With congestion already an issue for daily commutes, any added stress would cause a meltdown. Add to that the pollution from more vehicles on the road longer and an already poor air quality would get worse. You also have the problem of preverbal “White Elephants,” buildings that will never get used except for the games itself. None are more notable than Montreal Olympic Stadium which is a terrible building that is in constant need of repair. Athens, Beijing, Sydney and even Vancouver have all had venue issues Post-Olympics.

4) Security

With the growing threat of terrorism, Olympic Games are always a great concern. There are several reasons why security can negatively affect the Olympics. If the host country does a great job with security and nothing terrible occurs, peoples lives will often be inconvenienced and it usually disrupts the flow of the games. If security does a poor job, then people’s lives are in danger and disaster can happen. Security has now been built into the infrastructure plans of mega-events and that often adds great cost and damages the land. Huge fences and checkpoints are unsightly and disturbing but are sadly necessary.

5) The Optics

There is no way around spending huge amounts of money for an Olympics and not looking bad. For the governing party of the time, in this case, the Liberal Party of Ontario, adding extra costs onto an already burdened tax system would be fatal. With already crumbling infrastructure, overburdened hospitals, and many people living below the poverty line it is not a good time to think about added expenses. There are also the land reclamation issues, aboriginal land rights issues and straight up inconvenience for everyone involved. There is no party that would not take a beating in the press for making this decision.

Olympics used to be a show of country pride, and a glimpse into the cultures of the world we may not have seen. Now it has become a corrupt money grab that has the power to hurt economies for generations to come. Let’s hope that Toronto does not go down this route anytime soon.

Joseph James Francis is a Financial Advisor, Money Coach and Blogger

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